Police Chief Quits Job After Cocaine Arrest

By Kelly Burch 08/21/18

Michael Coppola was accused of buying cocaine and attempting to ship it through the post office. 

Former police chief Michael Coppola
Former police chief Michael Coppola Photo via YouTube

A New Jersey police chief has resigned after investigators say that he bought cocaine and had it shipped to his post office box. 

Michael Coppola, 43, was chief of the Palisades Interstate Parkway police department from 2014 until he resigned on August 15.

According to NJ.com, Coppola was charged with attempting to possess cocaine and possession of drug paraphernalia after investigators found that he was ordering cocaine online.

They delivered a package containing “imitation cocaine” to Coppola’s post office box, and Coppola was arrested during a traffic stop shortly after picking up the package. He is due in court later this week.

Coppola’s arrest and resignation are the latest controversies for the Palisades Interstate Parkway police department. The department has about 25 officers and is in charge of patrolling an 11-mile stretch of highway, something that many people believe is unnecessary. 

"There is no need for a force to patrol an 11-mile stretch of roadway," said Declan O’Scanlon, a Republican who serves on the New Jersey state senate. "Other departments can cover that area with no increase in manpower. Let's be done with it.”

Calls to disband the department have intensified after an investigation into the department showed many questionable practices. Coppola rewarded cops who made the most traffic stops with meal allowances, better parking spots and newer vehicles.

The department’s officers engaged in police chases that violated state policy, and Coppola used a company that he owned to provide technology services to the department. 

All of this was revealed in a report launched by state attorney general Gurbir Grewal that was released last month. It is not clear whether the investigation into Coppola’s purchase of cocaine was part of the investigations undertaken in writing the report. 

However, O’Scanlon said that Coppola is the latest person to be part of department leadership that "has been fatally flawed” for years.”

“The ticket quotas. The rewards for writing tickets. That should not go on in any police department, let alone one that is not needed. Every revelation I read screams at me that it's time to dissolve this force. There is no reason for it. It's victimizing the people it is supposed to be protecting," he said.

Last year, data indicated that cocaine use was rising for the first time in almost ten years. In addition, the drug is becoming more dangerous as it is laced with fentanyl.

In New York City the problem is so severe that the health department issued a warning about cocaine laced with opioids. 

Please read our comment policy. - The Fix
Kelly Burch Contrib.jpg

Kelly Burch writes about addiction and mental health issues, particularly as they affect families. Follow her on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.